Emergency Care for Kids

When it comes to treating kids for trauma, one-size does not fit all.
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Kids Are Smaller

Each year, the tens of millions of critically ill and injured children taken to our nation's emergency rooms face a special danger: that the staff may not have the proper knowledge or equipment to treat them.

Children require smaller-size oxygen masks and blood pressure cuffs than those used on adults, as well as special techniques for some very basic medical procedures, such as starting an IV line. Thanks to the Emergency Medical Services for Children program created by Congress in 1984, more emergency rooms than ever now stock child-size equipment.

However, experts acknowledge that few ERs are specifically designated as pediatric trauma centers. Last October, a coalition of 19 major health-care organizations -- including the American College of Emergency Physicians and the American Academy of Pediatrics -- released a resource kit to help medical professionals provide state-of-the-art pediatric emergency care. It will be distributed to more than 5,000 emergency-care facilities nationwide.

In the meantime, says Jane F. Knapp, M.D., professor of pediatrics at Children's Mercy Hospital, in Kansas City, Missouri, "It's very important for parents to find out where the best emergency services for children are in their community. If your child has a life-threatening injury or illness, the paramedics' protocol will probably dictate to which hospital they take her. But if her life isn't in danger, you have a say in where she goes. Ask your pediatrician which hospital in your area has a doctor who is certified in pediatric emergency medicine or who deals solely with children. And be sure to share the information with your child's caregivers."

Continued on page 2:  How to Choose the Best ER


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